Debates Debatable, Judge Declares


A Libertarian Party legal challenge to the propriety of the planned third debate between Kerry and Bush gains some traction, as Judge F. Pendleton Gaines III has demanded that Arizona State University and the Commission on Presidential Debates, the debate's hosts, appear in court tomorrow to respond to that suit.

The LP is claiming that Arizona State University is, as the New York Sun reports

illegally donating state resources to the Republican and Democratic Parties by serving as host for a debate that showcases Messrs. Bush and Kerry but excludes their Libertarian counterpart, Michael Badnarik, who is on the ballot in Arizona and 47 other states.

"They can't have debates that make public expenditures for private benefit," Mr. [David] Euchner [the LP's lawyer] said. "A.S.U. is spending its money in violation of the state constitution."

The long story goes on to detail that the university claims that since it is trying to gather private funds to pay the expenses–though it has not yet succeeded in competely doing so–then there is no public support involved in the debates. It also quotes a couple of legal experts saying the LP is sure to lose, since the University could easily claim it is getting benefits–like publicity–in return for its "gift" to the parties.